Fatima Hospital workers hold informational picket as contract talks stall“While top Prospect executives recently pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars in dividend payments and Fatima Hospital received more than $10 million of federal dollars in CARES Act money, they simultaneously have refused to treat patients, nurses and frontline health care professionals with the respect and dignity we deserve,” said UNAP Local 5110 President Laura McQuesten.
Published on July 29, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist
UNAP Local 5110, representing the nurses and health care professionals at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital, held an informational picket on Thursday. Local 5110 and Fatima management have been bargaining for a new contract since early April 2021, but the for-profit Prospect CharterCare, owner and operator of Fatima Hospital, refuses to negotiate a contract with sufficient protections for hospital patients and the front-line nurses and health care professionals who care for them, says the union.
Outside Fatima workers marched with signs and rang purple painted cowbells to draw attention to their demands.
“While top Prospect executives recently pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars in dividend payments and Fatima Hospital received more than $10 million of federal dollars in CARES Act money, they simultaneously have refused to treat patients, nurses and frontline health care professionals with the respect and dignity we deserve,” said UNAP Local 5110 President Laura McQuesten in a statement. “The nurses and health care professionals we represent have worked tirelessly and selflessly through the COVID pandemic, sacrificing our mental and physical well-being to ensure quality care for patients. All we ask in return is for a fair contract that includes safe working conditions and measures to ensure our safety and patient safety.”
According to the union, the main sticking points are:
- Prospect’s refusal to guarantee a fair safe staffing grid that provides safe nurse-to-patient ratios and protects Fatima’s nurses, health care professionals and patients
- Prospect’s refusal to offer pandemic protections that would protect nurses and health care professionals during the current pandemic and in the case of future pandemics
- Prospect’s refusal to agree to cost-saving changes to the health insurance plan, which continues to price gouge nurses with unreasonable increases in health care costs
In their release, UNAP outlined the profits Prospect has made in recent years, at the expense of healthcare professionals.
“In recent years, the for-profit Prospect Medical Holdings borrowed more than $1 billion dollars to pay out close to $700 million in dividends to Prospect shareholders, with top executives Sam Lee and David Topper personally pocketing more than $200 million dollars. In addition, Prospect CharterCare received more than $10 millions dollars in CARES Act funding from the federal government. Despite this, the hospital paid their nurses less money in wages in 2020 (including salary and overtime) than they did in 2018 and 2019. In 2018, they paid their nurses a total of $19,602,733.94 in salary and overtime. In 2019, they paid their nurses $18,993,704.51 in salary and overtime. And in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they unfathomably paid their nurses $18,428,566.79 in salary and overtime – more than $1 million less than they did in the prior two non-pandemic years.“
In a recent report from Attorney General Peter Neronha, Prospect is not portrayed in a very favorable light. “Rhode Islanders can ill afford their healthcare infrastructure serving as a private bank for private investors,” said the report.
“Since the for-profit Prospect CharterCare took over management of Fatima Hospital in 2014, they’ve consistently put greed and profits ahead of patient care, as proven in the recent report from Attorney General Peter Neronha,” continued McQueston in her statement. “If Prospect CharterCare wants to play a positive role in our community and our state – like they say in their ads – they need to start walking the walk. It is unconscionable that they cut back wages – by more than $1 million dollars – for front-line registered nurses during a pandemic when hospitals were much more crowded. Health care should be centered around quality patient care – not making massive profits for shareholders. We are calling on Prospect CharterCare to put their money where their mouth is and take care of the patients and frontline nurses and health professionals who care for them.”
In addition to the informational picket, UNAP Local 5110 has launched a public campaign informing Rhode Islanders about this issue and calling on them to support Fatima Hospital’s nurses and health care professionals. Rhode Islanders can take action by visiting here.
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